Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, 1824 - 1863

portrait of Stonewall Jackson
Portrait at Spotsylvania County, Virginia (26 April 1863)
Stonewall Jackson signature

Born: 21 January 1824, Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia)
Died: 10 May 1863, Guinea Station, Virginia

Thomas Jackson's father and sister died two years after he was born. His mother's ill health and her second husband's dislike of his stepchildren meant thew were raised by different family members, Thomas received very little education. At age eleven he ran away from his assigned aunt to live on Cummins Jackson's farm, herding sheep, educating himself (while illegally teaching a slave to write), and in his last years there was a school teacher. When he started at West Point in 1842 he struggled at the bottom of his class, he graduated 17 out of 59. His classmates said that in another year he would have been first. He immediately was sent off to the Mexican-American War, during which he was the most promoted officer in the army. It was at Mexico City that he first considered religion and found a deep religious faith, becoming a Presbyterian. Although he certainly shared the general opinion that white were superior to blacks, he and his wife started a Sunday School for "coloreds" to help improve them, teaching and paying for the program himself, and on at least two occasions slaves asked him to buy them at auction knowing his fair treatment and that they could earn their way to freedom. He became a professor at the Virginia Military Institute, returning to service as a drill master to raw recruits when the war started ten years later and commanding a brigade at Harpers Ferry. At the first battle of Bull Run he held his troops steady, "standing like a stone wall". This was apparently not said in admiration, but by another general who was under attack and would have preferred Jackson depart from the plan to aid his unit, but the name stuck. He was Lee's most trusted and most effective general until two years later when he was shot by his own forces, they didn't recognize his party returning after dark following the Battle of Chancellorsville, a few days after this portrait was taken. His left arm was amputated but pneumonia had set in, he died in the near-by plantation office where he was taken to recuperate.

Biography from Wikipedia and Son of the South

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